Relations between Switzerland and Georgia are excellent and characterised by numerous exchanges. Switzerland's support for Georgia focuses on development cooperation. Switzerland is also contributing to efforts to resolve regional conflicts in the South Caucasus.
Bilateral relations Switzerland-Georgia
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland has had a presence in Georgia since 1991, initially with a focus on development cooperation. Since March 2009, it has represented the diplomatic interests of Georgia in Moscow and those of Russia in Tbilisi.
Switzerland imports mainly primary products and exports pharmaceuticals, machines and watches. A free-trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and Georgia was concluded in 2016. It entered into force for Swiss-Georgian relations on 1 May 2018.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Swiss and Georgian universities have concluded a number of cooperation agreements. Since 2013, Switzerland has supported vocational skills development in agriculture, public administration and other sectors.
Researchers and artists from Georgia can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Peacebuilding and human security
Georgia and Russia broke off diplomatic relations following the conflict in August 2008. Since 5 March 2009, Switzerland has represented Georgia's diplomatic interests in Moscow and those of the Russian Federation in Tbilisi.
Thanks to Switzerland's mediation efforts, on 9 November 2011 Russia and Georgia signed a customs administration agreement which paved the way for Russia's accession to the WTO.
Through its support for various platforms for dialogue, Switzerland strives to promote peaceful solutions to regional conflicts. For example, it seconded a Swiss official to the OSCE from 2014 to August 2018 to work towards this end as the organisation's Special Representative for the South Caucasus.
As part of its 2017–20 cooperation strategy, the SDC aims to increase and diversify people's incomes in rural regions. In particular, it seeks to promote SMEs in the agricultural sector, access to credit and the establishment of a vocational training system for the sector.
The SDC also promotes greater cooperation at the regional level. For example, it supports exchanges between artists in the region to encourage debate on the development of the South Caucasus. The SDC is also active in the field of local governance and public services. In addition, it is involved in disaster risk management with a focus on the sustainable development of mountainous regions.
There is a lively cultural exchange between Switzerland and Georgia even in the absence of a bilateral cultural exchange agreement. Private contacts and initiatives are particularly dynamic in the fields of literature, music, cinema and the visual arts. Switzerland supports the Georgian cultural scene as part of its development assistance. The Swiss embassy in Georgia also promotes Swiss culture in Georgia, organising events during the French and Italian language weeks and in the month dedicated to the German language.
Swiss nationals in Georgia
According to statistics on the Swiss Abroad, 54 Swiss nationals were living in Georgia at the end of 2017.
History of bilateral relations
In the 19th century, there was a large Swiss community in Georgia whose members were active in the raw materials sector (oil, manganese) and the dairy industry. Switzerland had a consulate in Tbilisi from 1883 to 1992.
Switzerland recognised Georgia's independence on 23 December 1991 and provided humanitarian assistance during the conflicts that shook the country in the early 1990s. It opened a cooperation office in Tbilisi in 1996 and an embassy in June 2001.
Relations developed considerably after 2008, when Switzerland assumed a mandate to represent Russian interests in Georgia and those of Georgia in Russia and began sustained efforts to mediate between the two countries.